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King legacy discussed at breakfast as faith leaders and community join CTU officers to offer a contemporary look at what the civil rights leaders would do today

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and the officers of the union joined community and faith leaders on January 15, 2013 in a breakfast discussion of the legacy of Dr. King and the current fight for the soul of public education. The event took place on the exact date of the anniversary of Dr. King's birthday, which was January 15, 1929. The press release issued by the union is below here:

Chicago Teachers Union Leads Discussion on Race and Public Education at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast

(From Left) DePaul Professor Kenneth Saltman, CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, Rev. Paul Jakes, CTU President Karen GJ Lewis, CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle, Chicago PEACE Coordinator Audrey May, Rev. Alvin Love, Jitu Brown, and Rev. Wendell Anthony. Photo courtesy Chicago Teachers Union.CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today hosted a discussion on race and public education in commemoration of the birth of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during a special breakfast forum at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Chicago. Co-hosted by Chicago Parents, Educators and Clergy for Education (PEACE), the program brought together more than 200 members of the city’s labor and faith communities to discuss Dr. King’s legacy of civil rights, and how past struggles are providing a foundation for the current fight to protect students, parents and neighborhood schools from policies of inequality.

“If we allow other people to define us, to chart our course of history, then they get to write the next chapter,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “There’s a problem with that.”

Lewis was among a group of speakers gathered to address the political agendas and faulty business models threatening public schools in Chicago and nationwide. Citing “The Black and White of Education in Chicago,” the most recent CTU report on inequality in the Chicago Public Schools, the president of the nation’s third-largest teachers union continued to cite District contradictions regarding school closings and utilization, and stressed the importance of re-establishing the love of learning and leaving the educating to those who know best—parents, teachers and the community.

“We are the education experts,” Lewis said. “We can help you if you want to listen to us.”

Other speakers included the Rev. Paul Jakes, president of the Christian Council on Urban Affairs; Jitu Brown, education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization; DePaul professor and author Kenneth Saltman; and the Rev. Alvin Love, pastor of Lilydale First Baptist Church and chairman of Chicago PEACE, a committee that engages clergy and education professionals, parents and others in addressing poverty, race and class issues impacting the city’s 405,000 public school students.

The keynote address was delivered by the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP and pastor of Fellowship Chapel in Detroit. The powerful orator discussed the founding of public education on the backs of the common man and how the current struggle for education equality mirrors the civil rights struggle of the mid-20th century. Dr. King experienced hate like no other while marching in Chicago, said the Rev. Anthony, who lauded the work of Lewis and the union for standing up to ideologues, “fat cats” and politicians whose plans marginalize and destabilize many of Chicago’s at-risk communities. “Martin Luther King did not have a dream for us to turn it into a nightmare,” Anthony said.

The national Martin Luther King Holiday is celebrated the third Monday of each January. The civil rights icon was born January 15, 1929.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information visit CTU’s website at www.ctunet.com

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